Mine That Bird, Dunkirk In Spotlight For Belmont Stakes

With a history going back to May 1905, Belmont Park in New York provides a charming setting for the third and final leg of the Triple Crown – the Belmont Stakes. Horseracing enthusiasts are no doubt looking forward to this prestigious event which is set to take place on Saturday 6 June 2009. Horses will be competing for top honors over a distance of a mile and a half, which is the distance established in 1926 and still used today. The Belmont Stakes is also known as the “Run for the Carnations”, referring to the masses of white carnations that are draped over the winner’s neck like a cloak.

Having failed to run to his full capabilities at the Kentucky Derby earlier this year where he finished in 11th place, Dunkirk will have the opportunity to redeem himself at the Belmont Stakes After two decisive wins at the beginning of his career, Dunkirk went into the Derby as the 5-1 second choice in what was only his fourth race. Trainer Todd Pletcher has expressed his confidence in Dunkirk’s abilities, referring to him as a "very high-quality horse", noting that he had put on a little weight since the Derby and had been training well. With John Velazquez in the saddle, Dunkirk is the 4-1 third choice, starting from the second post, in the 10 horse field of three-year olds in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

Mine That Bird, the Kentucky Derby winner earlier this year and a runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, is being touted as the 2-1 favorite for the Belmont Stakes. Jockey Calvin Borel will be aboard Mine That Bird as he leaves the number 7 post. Flying Private, at 12-1 in the program, is the only other horse besides Mine That Bird, that will have run in all three of the Triple Crown races – Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Charitable Man is the 3-1 choice after Mine That Bird. Under the watchful eye of trainer Kiaran McLaghlin, Charitable Man won both his starts in 2008, winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park in May. Chocolate Candy from Northern California has notched up wins at the California Derby and El Camino Real, finishing fifth at the Kentucky Derby. Other horses in the field for the Belmont Stakes are Luv Gov, Miner’s Escape, Brave Victory, Summer Bird and Mr. Hot Stuff.

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